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Looking at getting a new SUV, previously had a 1st gen 4runner and an old FJ40.

Will probably go with the 3rd gen, but might be able to swing a 4th if we sell our current car.

Just curious what your opinions are on pros/cons for each one?

Otherwise, what 3rd gen 4Runner year should I be looking for and why?

Very broad question, so throw out what you have.

Thanks
 

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I had a 97 4runner and recently upgraded to an 07 tacoma after driving an 04 4runner. Honestly, if you don't need the newest, best car out there to look good, the 3rd generation 4runners are about as good as it gets. I regret selling mine... and instead should have saved about 18k and bought some nice seat covers from wet okole and been happy. Just my personal opinion. 3rd gen 4runners are amazingly well built tanks, and while they have a couple minor problems (powered antennae), 99.9% run forever without any real maintenance. That's just my take. Also, you can get a manual tranny through 2000 with the 3rd gen. Don't know if that's your thing...but it's not available past then.

Unless you need a v-8 for towing
A bigger v-6 to feel good about yourself (you can get a 3rd gen supercharger)
3rd row seats

Then you should get a 3rd generation. I'm not familiar but some of the late model 3rd gens have more plastic bumper/fender pieces that are not as tough as my 97 4runners. You'd have to check that.

EDIT: I might also add that even though I'm just 20 years old, I've driven several vehicles in the snow a lot and the 4runner is the best out of them. I also am somewhat oldschool because I hate all the electronic bull they put in the new 4runners and even tacomas... drive by wire throttle=throttle lag... the new ABS in my tacoma ABSOLUTELY SUCKS. All the TPMS malfunction in cold weather... VSC tends to have problems. And they're all very costly to fix. 3rd gen 4runners without VSC and that crap are just mechanically sound and are much more dependable (in my opinion) as a result. It had a great ABS system as well.

The one advantage of 4th gen is side-curtain airbags.
 

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+1 for 3rd gen

I'd advise to get a 2000 limited or preferably a sport/highlander. After 2000 and alot of stuff(drivetrain,etc) was made in the US and not as reliable.

And.....3rd gen's look better than 4th and possibly every other SUV out there.
 

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after owning both.. i had a 02 sport and now a 08 v8.. i find the 08 to be much better built and more refined. the 3rd gen v6 with a 4 speed always felt gutless to me, and i never felt like i could tow properly. the new v6 (as we had in our 2 tacomas) is a good option, altho feels like you have to wind it up to get power.. i like the v8s smooth quiet low end power over the v6. both new motors have 5 speeds in them.

the XREAS is awesome for handling and road behavior. and the addition of VVTi to the v8 is great for power, it hauls ass. we can pull 20mpg on the hwy no problem.. only downside is the v8 is full time 4WD, altho i see that as an upside... safer if anything. i also see no issues with the "electronics". my 02 had nearly the same electronics as the 08, except drive by wire... which most new sports cars are drive by wire.. including our IS and all of the new lexus models... i see no problems with it, and actually prefer it now. with "lag" you are as limited as your weakest link, and with a motor, most times the speed to the throttle body opening is not your slowest item to react.

the newer gen is bigger, without being too big. fits great in a small cali garage. the interior is very nice, and the auto climate control is available on all trim levels, not just the limited like the 3rd gen. the 4th gen is built as the lexus GX as well, so some of the nice items transfer over since they are on the same platform.

personally i hated the 4th gens when i had my 3rd gen, but after '06 with the facia changes, i personally think a 4th gen looks nicer.. anyway, a rushed post... but id go 4th gen if you could afford it. and the JBL radio is awesome... we didnt go for NAVI but got the JBL system, ive never been disappointed by the new JBL systems they are putting in... our tacoma had it as well..

the 4th gens are still built in japan also, feels much more rigid and better built than our tacomas (built here in the bay area)
 

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I have a 2000 4Runner SR5 Auto, best vehicle I have ever owned. Bought it new, maintained the fluids and it's been just about perfect, 246k on it as of today. No engine repairs, no tranny repairs...only replaced one sensor and my cd player isn't working. I still smile evertime I get in it, I have no intentions on selling it - I want to see how long she'll go. If I needed a SUV I'd fine the cleanest 2000 I could, buy it and drive the wheels of it. They are not poweful vehicles but mine still averages 23 mpg.
 

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I don't think you can go wrong with any year from the 3rd gen 4Runners. I have a 97 that I purchased new and have 120,000 miles on it. I have never had to do any major repairs and with what I have heard from other 3rd gen 4Runner owners, my truck should be good for quite a few more miles.
 
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